Elliott Conroy finishes his exams and looks forward to freedom from school and the pressures associated with it. However almost as soon as he steps out of the stress of school, Elliott's mum tells him she has developed Parkinson's disease. This puts him on the back foot but is nowhere near as impacting as when she reveals to him the next day that his dad Tony was not able to have babies so they used sperm from another man to have him. Lonely and hurt, Elliott befriends Polish cleaner Petra, who helps him as he tries to come to terms with the secrets falling out of the family closet.
This one-off drama was screened in the afternoon on BBC1 and that is probably the best place for it because it is as unnatural and unconvincing a drama as I've seen in a long time. Maybe I've spoilt it for myself but three years of HBO's The Wire seems to have raised my expectations over how drama and characters can be done. With this one you can sense that it has no time to do anything so we are right into the "secrets" before the titles have barely finished. The "donated sperm" thing comes out of nowhere and the script doesn't seemed too fussed about setting up reasons for this sort of thing and instead just wants to get it to a head of drama as quick as possible.
Unfortunately the result is somewhere around the soap opera level of drama. You can see what Campbell was trying to do but his individual scenes of shouting, hurt, bonding, soul-searching etc are all quite disjointed and don't seem to have been built on anything of substance. I'm not sure where the fault for this lies, if it is the script, the short time, the direction or what, but it just didn't convince me at all and instead of drawing me into the characters I was left coldly staring at a basic family melodrama.
The cast appear to grab onto the individual scenes rather than having a base to set their feet on. This produces lots of moments of high emotion and high drama that don't convince. Shaw is reasonably OK in the lead role but the support isn't there for him. Phil Davis has been told his character in two sentences and thus spends the rest of the film doing a repetitive "wounded" thing but he does work well alongside a solid Nicholls. Filatova is light and flirty although her "free" character is clunky and obvious while Williamson's moping Sophie is thrown in where really she was unnecessary and she struggles as a result. Webb is obvious as well.
Overall then a very basic and dull melodrama best suited to the daytime TV market. The script is superficial and the characters never get beyond the events around them creating a clunky drama that I felt unconvincing and unnatural from the very start.